In the modern era, nutraceutical properties of horticultural crops are indispensable to determine their adaptability to different agro-ecological regions. The present study exploits the potential of mulches (P: plastic mulch; S: straw mulch; N: No mulch) in relation to drip irrigation (I1: 100%, I2: 80%, I3: 60% of crop evapotranspiration (Etc)), and fertigation (F1: 100%, F2: 80%, F3: 60% of recommended dose of fertilizer (RDF): 125 kg N, 62.5 Kg P2O5, 62.5 kg K2O per ha) on Pak choi at three maturity stages in the North West region of India. Plant fresh weight was the highest at 55 days after transplanting (DAT); however, maximum soil plant analysis development (SPAD) values were registered at 45 DAT. Antioxidant activity, FRAP, DPPH, phenols, flavanols, total sugars, ascorbic acid, free amino acids, and irrigation water use efficiency were observed significantly higher in plants grown on plastic mulch at different levels of irrigation and fertigation. It is envisioned that Pak choi plants had the highest nutritional value at 45 DAT from plots mulched with silver-black, irrigated at 80% Etc, and fertigated at 100% RDF. The nutrient enriched plants are used for green salad and as ingredients for the preparation of many recipes in the semi-arid and sub-tropic areas of India.
The present paper reports that significant genetic variability was evident in Fe, Zn, β-carotene, and phytic acid (phytate, PA) contents in a set of 39 diverse maize genotypes collected from maize breeding programme of hill agriculture, India. The Fe, Zn, β-carotene, and PA concentrations were found to be in the range 19.31–50.64 mg kg−1, 12.60–37.18 mg kg−1, 0.17–8.27 µg g−1, and 6.59–7.13 g kg−1, respectively. The genotypes V335, V420, V393, V416, V414, V372, and V351 were identified to have higher concentration of β-carotene, Fe, and Zn but lower amount of PA. Possible availability of the minerals Fe and Zn was determined using molar ratio between PA as inhibitor and β-carotene as promoter for their absorption. The micronutrient molar ratio showed that Fe and Zn traits could be dependent of each other. Low R2 value revealed relation between β-carotene and kernel colour. The selected genotypes could be considered as potential sources of favourable genes for further breeding programs to develop micronutrient enriched maize cultivars.